University of Limerick
Cahill_2022_Retiring.pdf (2.69 MB)

Retiring from academia in the Republic of Ireland: a qualitative study of women academics’experiences from an occupational perspective

Download (2.69 MB)
posted on 2023-01-18, 10:17 authored by MAIREAD CAHILLMAIREAD CAHILL


The retirement landscape is evolving globally linked with policy changes in response  to population aging and increased longevity.  


The overarching aim of this thesis was to explore women academics’ experiences of the retirement process from an occupational perspective. 


Firstly, the qualitative academic retirement literature was synthesised using a meta-ethnographic approach. Secondly, based on the findings of the meta-ethnography, two longitudinal qualitative studies were undertaken to: (i) examine the pre and post-retirement experiences of women academics from an occupational perspective and (ii) explore the impact of retirement on a group of women academics retirees’ daily lives and relationships at two time points. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.


The meta-ethnography revealed that most academics continued with academic and professional activities in retirement and that women academics retirement experiences had received little attention. The longitudinal, qualitative studies found that most academics continued with research in retirement, that some resumed working in their pre-academic professional work, and that a minority completely detached from work on retirement. The studies revealed that some women faced issues of occupational injustice linked with mandatory retirement and lack of recognition for their continued research outputs post-retirement.  


Overall, this thesis highlights the variety of ways that women academics transition to retirement. While most continued with research related occupations post-retirement, those who did not have active research profiles pre-retirement did not continue with  academic activities. The findings suggest a need to offer equitable choices to academics in terms of retirement timing and retirement pathways. The findings highlight the importance of participation in meaningful occupations to facilitate the transition and occupational adaptation to retirement. 




  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Judith Pettigrew

Second supervisor

Rose Galvin

Other Funding information

I gratefully acknowledge the School of Allied Health, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, University of Limerick for funding this research.

Department or School

  • Allied Health

Usage metrics